Tag Archive: M. Basketball

  1. MEN’S BASKETBALL: Azar Swain, Yale’s all-time three-point leader, reflects on setting new school record

    Leave a Comment

    When Yale men’s basketball head coach James Jones recruited Azar Swain ’22 as a high schooler, he said he envisioned Swain becoming the program’s all-time leading three-point scorer.

    On Tuesday night, more than five years after he committed to Yale in Feb. 2016 and in his 103rd appearance for the Blue and White, the senior guard did just that.

    Swain sank a deep three-pointer midway through the second half of Yale’s (6–7, 0–0 Ivy) game against Monmouth (9–2, 2–0 MAAC). The three was his 230th in a Yale jersey, one more than the previous record-holder, guard Ed Petersen ’92, scored over the course of his collegiate career from 1988 to 1992. 

    The shot itself spurred the Elis along as they trimmed a 20-point hole to a three-point Monmouth lead over the course of the second half, though the Hawks ultimately held on for a 69–60 win. After stepping out of the Yale locker room for an interview with the News and WTNH News 8, Swain said it was hard to process the milestone immediately after a loss. But when he heard about Jones’ envisioning this moment for his former high-school self, Swain laughed. 

    “I’m not gonna say he believed that,” Swain said. “I’m not even sure that was a goal of mine I had in mind when I first got here. It’s just been a result of me trying to prove myself through the years. It’s amazing to have an opportunity like this. Like I said, I just want to be remembered when I’m gone.”

    Monmouth’s lead had shrunk to 53–46 by the next break from play, a timeout with seven minutes left. As Swain and others on the floor sat focused on the bench, the John J. Lee Amphitheater’s public address announcer Eric Scholl proclaimed the new record, a celebratory graphic flashed on both of JLA’s video boards and a sparse but loud crowd of 892 rose for an ovation.

    Despite an off shooting night — of his nine three-point attempts, only the record-breaking one fell — Swain ended Tuesday night with a game-high 17 points and the same number of career appearances as Petersen, 103, but just one more three.

    “It’s great for Azar,” Jones said. “He’s done so much for our program over the last four years. It’s great to see him have some success and for him to break a record.”

    “I just want to be remembered when I’m gone,” Swain, pictured above during Yale’s season opener last month, said after breaking the record on Tuesday. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

    Swain broke a previous Petersen school record last season. His 93 three-pointers during the 2019–20 campaign are the most in program history; Swain crossed Petersen’s 72 during a game against Penn at The Palestra in February 2020. He finished that pandemic-abrupted season ranked 10th among all NCAA Division I men’s basketball players with an average of 3.21 triples per game.

    After taking a gap year because of the pandemic, the guard from Brockton, Massachusetts entered this season with 201 career three-pointers. Barring an injury, becoming the school’s all-time three-point leader was more a question of when, not if. He scored 54 in each of his first two seasons as an Eli and now has 29 three-point makes through this season’s first 13 games. 

    As of Sunday, the night he tied the all-time record, Swain said he was not aware of where he stood in regards to Petersen. He said he had a chance to think about the milestone for the first time earlier Tuesday and played to reflect more after winding down from the Monmouth loss later Tuesday night. Swain credited his teammates, shouting out former Yale guards Miye Oni and Alex Copeland ’19 along with forward Paul Atkinson ’21, for trusting him to shoot and setting him up with assists. 

    During a timeout with seven minutes to play, public address announcer Eric Scholl proclaimed the new record, a celebratory graphic flashed on both of JLA’s video boards and a sparse but loud crowd of 892 rose for an ovation. (Courtesy of muscosportsphotos.com)

    “It’s just the result of a lot of work,” Swain said. “I can’t explain how many hours with my dad I’ve spent critiquing my jump shot and breaking it down throughout my life.”

    Swain coincidentally became Yale’s all-time three-point leader on the same night Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry became the NBA’s all-time three-point leader, as some Yale followers and teammates pointed out on social media celebrating Swain’s new record. Just two nights earlier, Iona head coach Rick Pitino said Swain had “played like Steph Curry” when he dropped a career-high 34 points and seven three-pointers on the Gaels.

    In high school at The Rivers School outside Boston, Swain grew accustomed to setting school records. The Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior during the 2016-17 season, Swain is the school’s all-time points leader with 2,185. As a wide receiver on the Rivers football team, he sported the same number he wears on the basketball court, five, and finished his football career with 36 career touchdowns, the most in school history.

    Ed Petersen ’92, dribbling above on the cover of the Nov. 30, 1990 issue of the News, held the previous record with 229 career three-pointers. (Yale Daily News Historical Archive)

    “He’s a mechanic in some ways,” Swain’s high school coach Keith Zalaski said in a 2020 interview with the News. “If he feels something off with his shot, he can fix it… as soon he goes to get into his shot, the entire bench stands up because everyone thinks he’s going to make it, especially when he gets into those games where he’s really feeling it.”

    Earlier this season, Swain also joined Yale’s 1,000-point club, crossing the mark during the Bulldogs’ 82–54 win at Siena.

  2. MEN’S BASKETBALL: “We’re not playing as good as the sum of our parts:” Monmouth sends Yale into finals break with 69–60 loss

    Leave a Comment

    After the Yale men’s basketball team wrapped up its Tuesday night game against Monmouth, a 69–60 loss, head coach James Jones and starting senior guards Azar Swain ’22 and Eze Dike ’22 all shared versions of the same view: the Bulldogs have not yet performed to their full potential through the season’s first 13 games.

    Yale (6–7, 0–0 Ivy), down 41–25 at halftime, surged back with a strong second half, but Monmouth (9–2, 2–0 MAAC) maintained a slim lead over the final five minutes to record its ninth victory in 10 games. 

    Tuesday’s loss came at the hands of a quality Monmouth squad which entered the game with the most true road wins in all of Division I men’s basketball, including victories over high-major schools Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. But Yale’s 6–7 record does not offer that level of nuance; the Elis are under .500 for the first time this season as they enter an eight-day break from competition for final exams.

    “I try not to let the record be indicative of where we are,” Swain said while reflecting on Yale’s nonconference slate thus far. “We haven’t played our best basketball yet. I think a lot of guys feel that same way personally.”

    Though he was not as ruthlessly efficient as he was while scoring 34 during Yale’s Sunday night loss to Iona at the Barclays Center, Swain had 17 points Tuesday, leading his side in the box score for the 10th time this season. 

    11 of those points fell during the second half, including a long three-pointer that officially made Swain the school leader with 230 career three-point conversions. He tied Ed Petersen’s ’92 previous record of 229 on Sunday before officially breaking it Tuesday.

    Guard Eze Dike ’22, who finished the night with 10 points, handles the ball in the first half. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

    The big Swain shot with 10:12 to play also trimmed Monmouth’s lead, which had grown to 20 early in the second half, to 10. It followed an 8–0 Yale run that fired up the home crowd. An and-one finish from forward Matt Knowling ’24 on the Bulldogs’ next possession had Jones pumping his arm near the scorer’s table.

    Although the Bulldogs managed to cut the lead to 53–50 a few minutes later, the Hawks held on until the final buzzer. Monmouth forward Walker Miller, guard Shavar Reynolds and forward Nikkei Rutty combined to score 43 of the Hawks’ 69 points. Miller and Reynolds are graduate transfers from North Carolina and Seton Hall, respectively. Their presence helps explain why the Hawks are one of the most experienced teams in college basketball.

    When finals end, Yale hosts Howard on Dec. 23 and visits Saint Mary’s College of California on Dec. 28 before launching into Ivy League play against Columbia on Jan. 2. Though he does not have to transition into exam mode like his players do, Jones had his own chance to reflect on Yale’s season thus far after the game.

    “I think we’re better than what we’ve been able to produce thus far,” Jones said. “I talked to the team today about some what ifs. What if we had done things a little bit differently in the first half and you’re not down 16? Maybe you’re down by six and now you have a chance to maybe win by 10 points in the second half because you played so well. We got some work to do. I think that we have enough talent in our locker room to be successful, and it really comes down to what we’re going to do in our conference.”

    This winter marks Yale’s first time entering fall-semester exams with a losing record since Dec. 2017, but some of Yale’s difficulties have arisen because of the quality of their opponents. Two of them are ranked in the latest AP Top 25 poll: No. 13 Auburn and No. 16 Seton Hall. The Bulldogs have also avoided “bad” losses. According to the NCAA’s NET ranking, Yale has only lost one Quadrant 4 game this season at home to Stony Brook, the preseason favorite in the America East. The rankings system defines Quadrant 4 games as home contests against opponents ranked lower than 161 in the NET, neutral-site matches with teams ranked below 201 or away games vs. squads ranked 241 or below.

    Following its win, Monmouth, which has climbed over 100 spots in the 2022 Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings (KenPom) since its season opener, ranked 46 out of more than 350 NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams in the NET. Yale opened the evening struggling to shoot against the surging Hawks. The Bulldogs were three-of-15 from three-point range and 33 percent from the field in the first.

    Guard Azar Swain ’22 attempts a three-point shot in the first half. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

    The Elis have made slower first-half performances a trend this season, especially at home, before finding their flow in the second. Dike, who often sets the team into motion or other plays as the team’s point guard, said the team is still trying to find its groove offensively, especially as the offense integrates a few players who have seen major increases in playing time since the pandemic began and last winter’s season was canceled. 

    “We’re trying to find our rhythm offensively,” Dike said. “We’re not playing as good as the sum of our parts right now. Once we really get into that rhythm, we really start knowing each other offensively and defensively, and we really start to succeed.”

    On the defensive end Tuesday, Jones transitioned the Bulldogs into a two-three zone just over nine minutes into the game and continued with it for a significant portion of the first half. Keeping a careful eye on the Hawks’ three-point threat, Elis on the perimeter kept pointing to Monmouth guard and leading scorer George Papas, who entered the night 15th in the country in three-point field goal attempts.

    The scheme was largely effective — Monmouth shot 13 of 28 from the field and four-for-12 from beyond the arc in the first half, while Papas finished the night three-of-13 from deep. Yale, back to playing man-to-man, then delivered one of its best defensive halves of the season after halftime, limiting Monmouth to 20 percent shooting from the field. The Hawks, however, grabbed 14 offensive rebounds Tuesday night and outrebounded the Bulldogs 43–27, scoring second-chance points that nullified some of Yale’s defensive work on each possession.

    Yale entered the game without injured, 6-foot-8 forwards Jack Molloy ’25 and EJ Jarvis ’23, who are averaging a combined 21.2 minutes a game this season in the post.

    Injured forward Jack Molloy ’25 did not dress in his game uniform Tuesday night. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

    “We’re down two forwards tonight, which makes a difference in a game when you get outrebounded by [16] and not get any offensive rebounds for the most part,” Jones said. “But don’t make excuses. It’s next man up, and that’s always been our mentality in terms of who we are and who our program is, and we just didn’t do a great job with it tonight.”

    Jones said he expects Jarvis to return “at some point soon,” while Molloy will be back after recovering from an ankle injury he sustained Sunday vs. Iona.

    Monmouth scored 29 points at the free throw line Tuesday night, the most a Yale opponent has converted at the charity stripe since Siena fell to the Bulldogs in triple overtime in Nov. 2019.

  3. MEN’S BASKETBALL: Azar Swain matches Yale’s career three-point record, but 91–77 loss to Iona shadows his stellar night

    Leave a Comment

    NEW YORK — Yale men’s basketball guard Azar Swain ’22 was firing on all cylinders Sunday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. His 34 points and seven made threes were both career bests, and he matched his career record with a team-high eight rebounds. 

    On his final triple of the night, a soaring shot launched from just right of the top of the key with 5:54 to play, Swain raised his career three-point total to 229, matching the all-time school record held by Ed Petersen ’92.

    The Yale bench stood to celebrate — if not for Swain’s tying a major program record, then at least for another three from their super senior and leading scorer — before Iona’s Dylan van Eyck sunk a three-pointer of his own less than 20 seconds later, increasing the Gaels’ lead to 16.

    The progression — a Swain make followed by three points for the Gaels on the other end — summed up the game’s general flow. Swain kept Yale (6–6, 0–0 Ivy) a threat into the second half, but Iona’s (9–2, 2–0 MAAC) own shooters lifted the Gaels to a 91–77 win in the fourth and final game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational. 

    Swain said that despite people asking how far he stood from the three-point school record, he still did not know and that the impending mark was not on his mind entering Sunday night.

    Swain’s 34 points, 20 of which came in the first half, marked a new career best. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

    “Coming into it, we just wanted to try to be the aggressors and try to compete as hard as we could,” Swain said during the postgame press conference. “And we just had some lapses tonight. We didn’t play our best basketball.”

    Swain’s 14 three-point attempts also set a new Yale record, while his seven conversions were one short of the school record. All eleven Yale players who saw the floor Sunday scored, but no one besides Swain finished in double figures.

    Despite Swain’s stellar shooting, the Gaels were just as efficient on the other end. They shot 56.3 percent from the field, including five-of-11 from beyond the arc, in the first half. Iona entered the matchup shooting just about 32 percent from deep this season, but it finished the game with 45.5 percent shooting from the three-point line to complement a 51.6 percent mark from the field. 

    Yale head coach James Jones said Yale needed to be tougher defensively and not allow opposing ball handlers to drive and penetrate. 

    “They were able to get driving layups against us, and we had some miscues defensively on the perimeter where we gave up a lot of open looks,” Jones said. “Iona’s not a great three-point shooting team, but they were tonight. A lot of that was due to the fact that they had a lot of open looks that were uncontested.”

    Yale head coach James Jones looks on during the first half. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

    Swain initiated his hot start in the first by knocking down three of his first four three-point attempts. He seemed to be everywhere, finishing the night with a team-high three steals. At one point, he followed a pullup three-pointer with a steal of Iona’s inbound pass and a relaxed midrange jumper. Fans lowering their heads to take a bite from a Barclays Center burger would have missed the five points he scored within a matter of seconds. The sequence put Yale up 18–17 about halfway through the first half. 

    Swain scored his 20th point of the night less than 15 minutes into the game, cutting Iona’s lead to 31–29 with a free throw that followed an and-one take to the rim.

    Despite the Gaels’ 14-point win, Swain seemed to be the main story postgame. Iona head coach Rick Pitino did not open his remarks talking about his own team’s shooting night — instead, he started with Swain’s.

    “We were happy to survive an unbelievable night by Azar Swain,” Pitino said. “He was just incredible to start. Perfect from the foul line, 50 percent from the three-point line. We’re one of the better three-point defensive teams in the nation, and tonight we weren’t.”

    Pitino is in his second season leading the Gaels in New Rochelle, N.Y. after a long career that has included stops at Boston University, Providence, Kentucky and Louisville. Pitino has nearly 800 career wins and was the first coach to take three different schools to the NCAA Final Four, but was fired from Louisville in 2017 after the FBI opened an investigation into college recruiting bribery allegations that involved the Cardinals program.

    He said that Iona forward Berrick JeanLouis had locked down the opponent’s best player in most games this season but could not slow Swain Sunday night.

    “We stopped the other guys,” Pitino added. “We just didn’t stop him. He played like Steph Curry tonight.”

    Yale guard Matthue Cotton ’23 handles the ball in the first half. He finished with six points. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

    Iona charged ahead towards the end of the first half, riding a 10–0 run over the span of about two minutes. A jumper from guard Elijah Joiner then lifted the Gaels’ lead to 15 with 90 seconds to go in the half. Yale entered halftime down 47–37 after two points in the final minute from forward Jack Molloy ’25 and an and-one drive from point guard Eze Dike ’22, whose take to the rim through the middle of the paint made Pitino upset with Joiner’s defense. “You just gave him the right hand, whether it’s a foul or not is irrelevant,” he loudly told his graduate student guard from the sideline. 

    Iona started the second on an 11–0 run to go up 21, its largest lead of the game.

    Yale was lacking a key player, EJ Jarvis ’23, entering the game Sunday night. Jarvis made his first career start during Yale’s win over Albany Tuesday before suffering what appeared to be an elbow to the head and leaving the game early. He was not on the Yale bench Sunday night, and Jones said postgame that the junior forward has concussion symptoms.

    Meanwhile, first-year Molloy left the game after appearing to injure some part of his lower body while landing on the court after a putback dunk, and foul trouble presented another complicating factor. Yale captain and guard Jalen Gabbidon ’22, forward Yussif Basa-Ama ’24, guard Matthue Cotton ’23 and forward Isaiah Kelly ’23 all had picked up at least three fouls less than halfway through the second frame. When Gabbidon picked up his fourth foul with 10:26 to play and Yale down 67–50, Jones opted to keep him on the floor. 

    The Elis nearly cut the deficit to single digits as the half went on, relying on more scoring from Swain, including his record-tying three-pointer, and significant playing time off the bench from two rookies, guard Bez Mbeng ’25 and forward Matt Knowling ’24. Mbeng’s team-high four assists came over 17 minutes of playing time, which was seven more minutes than he had ever previously played in a Yale game. Knowling’s new career high of 20 minutes was also seven higher than he had ever played for the Blue and White.

    Forward Yussif Basa-Ama ’24 (middle) finished with four points and five rebounds in about 13 minutes off the bench. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

    “I’m so proud of those guys,” Swain said. “They came in and competed hard [and] didn’t shy away from the moment or anything like that.” The senior specifically cited Mbeng’s four assists as indicative of the bench contributions Yale will need moving forward.

    Sunday night’s game marked the third all-time matchup between Iona and Yale. Though only about 60 miles separate the schools’ campuses, the two men’s basketball programs met for the first time in Dec. 2017, a home win for the Gaels. Yale then beat the Gaels at home when they visited New Haven in Dec. 2018 for the second leg of the home-and-home series. 

    Yale entered the game a slight underdog against its fellow mid-major, according to the analytics-focused 2022 Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings (KenPom), which estimated a 59 percent chance of victory for the Gaels. Iona, which defeated Harvard in overtime at the start of the season and took down then No. 10 Alabama on Thanksgiving, ranked 111 on the site out of 358 NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams. Yale stood at 139.

    The contest was the fourth and final game of the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational. Miami and Fordham started the day early with an 11:30 a.m. tipoff, with the Hurricanes beating the Rams 72–66. No. 1 Purdue then held off NC State in overtime before Maryland beat No. 20 Florida by two to clear the court — and much of the stands — for the Yale-Iona nightcap.

    Yale alumnus and benefactor Joe Tsai ’86 LAW ’90 — who owns the Brooklyn Nets and is the chairman of BSE Global, the company that governs the Barclays Center — sat courtside Sunday night. Yale’s Director of Athletics Vicky Chun and Deputy Director of Athletics Mary Berdo were also in attendance for the game.

    Joe Tsai ’86 LAW ’90 (wearing glasses) sported a Yale quarter-zip as he took in the contest courtside. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

    Yale plays another MAAC opponent Tuesday night when it hosts Monmouth (8–2, 2–0 MAAC) at 7:00 p.m.

  4. MEN’S BASKETBALL: James Jones, hoping to encourage African American history course requirements, joins board at ABIS

    Leave a Comment

    For James Jones, George Floyd’s killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in May sparked several discussions.

    “I couldn’t have a conversation with anybody without the George Floyd murder coming up,” said Jones, who enters his 22nd season as the head coach of Yale men’s basketball this fall.

    But Jones, who is Black, found that many people, especially those his age or older, had already decided where they stood on Floyd’s murder and race in America before dialogues began. As much as seeing “all different shades of people” protesting in New Haven encouraged him, he felt others had unfairly shifted the narrative around Black Lives Matter and efforts at change.

    Earlier this month, Jones joined the Board of Directors for the Advancement of Blacks in Sports, a new national organization that seeks to promote racial, social and economic justice for Blacks in athletics and beyond. His players describe him as an optimist — staying locked at home with family in quarantine “is nothing” when Jones compares his current situation to sacrifices made during wars and other tragedies — and the head coach has real hope in America’s youth. At ABIS, he is co-chair of the “Teaching African American History” education initiative.

    “We feel that the biggest problem with African Americans being shot for little or nothing is because of a lack of knowledge,” Jones said. “I think that [by] understanding people, it slows the fear of African Americans, so these things can cease to happen. If there was a better understanding of people that are next to you, if we understood the plight of people and who they are, it might make it easier for us to be able to live together.”

    The committee, which also includes his younger brother and Boston University men’s basketball head coach Joe Jones, hopes everyone who goes to high school and college takes a class in African American history.

    Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, left, greets Jones before Yale’s game at Memphis in November 2018. Hardaway serves on the Black Lives Matter Initiative at ABIS. (Photo: Joe Murphy/Yale Athletics)

    Jones and ABIS

    Founded by grassroots basketball coach Gary Charles, ABIS primarily draws collegiate and AAU basketball coaches together with others involved in athletics. The group also features professionals in music, law and business on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Most involved with ABIS, though not all, are Black.

    Jones said he had previously interacted with Charles at AAU basketball tournaments that the ABIS founder has organized. Younger brother Joe, Jones added, knows Charles well, and all three are from Long Island.

    Both Joneses now have significant experience as Division I head coaches. With 333 career wins and 21 seasons after he earned the Yale job in 1999, James is the all-time winningest men’s basketball coach in school history and has the second most wins in Ivy League history. But James said being a Black head coach added pressure, particularly early in his career.

    “You know if you’re not successful how this works: if I’m not successful, it’s not like they’re going to hire another African American to fill my shoes,” Jones said. “I felt like I needed to be successful to help the people after me.”

    In 2019, after Yale won Ivy Madness and advanced to its second NCAA Tournament under Jones, he was recognized with the Ben Jobe Award, given annually to the top minority coach in Division I men’s basketball.

    The examples of successful Black head coaches that came before him helped pave his way, he added.

    “It wasn’t something that I acknowledged, but it’s something that I know was there for me knowing that [former Georgetown coach] John Thompson and [former Temple coach] John Chaney and [former Arkansas coach] Nolan Richardson were able to be successful at something I wanted to do,” Jones said. “Subconsciously, it made it easier to do what I did.”

    ABIS, which officially launched at the start of September, consists of several sub-committees that devote attention to specific areas of focus within the organization’s mission of promoting racial, social and economic justice for Blacks. Among others, Georgia State men’s basketball coach Rob Lanier leads a group on the ACT and SAT; Howard men’s coach Kenny Blakeney chairs the voter registration committee; Cal women’s coach Charmin Smith and Depaul men’s coach Dave Leitao oversee a group around hiring practices; and Oklahoma State men’s coach Mike Boynton and Towson women’s coach Diane Richardson lead the Supplier Diversity Initiative. Boston University women’s coach Marisa Moseley is co-chair with Jones on the education initiative.

    When it comes to his own committee work around African American history education, Jones said he has talked with a couple professors at Yale but declined to name them publicly. He said the committee’s original thinking was to approach the issue from a “macro” level, but they are now considering approaching the idea at the institutions and schools with which they are associated.

    “I’d like to see [an African American history graduation requirement] everywhere in the country,” Jones said. “Not just at Yale. I’d like to see it everywhere in the country where people could understand each other … People have said they think they should change the name to All Lives Matter, but you’re not understanding what’s going on when you say stuff like that, you’re not really getting it. I think that’s the biggest problem — trying to educate people in terms of what’s happening.”

    Jones specifically referenced the University of Pittsburgh, which over the summer introduced a required, one-credit course on anti-Black racism for all first-year students.

    McClellan Hall, home of the History Department. (Photo: Sanya Nijhawan)

    An African American history requirement at Yale?

    Yale currently imposes area and skills requirements on undergraduates, asking students to complete a language requirement and take two course credits in each of the humanities and arts, social sciences and sciences, as well as two credits in classes that hone quantitative reasoning and writing skills.

    “The Department of History’s distributional requirements are defined by geography and chronology,” History Department chair Alan Mikhail wrote in an email to the News. “We have not discussed formally changing that, but as Chair I am always open to student feedback and suggestions, of course.”

    Mikhail added that the department’s course offerings often track student interests. This semester, he noted, the department’s most popular courses are on African American history, global health and the history of the political present. According to the most recent course demand statistics available on Sept. 6, 104 students are enrolled in “The Long Civil Rights Movement” taught by Crystal Feimster, making it the largest course in the History Department this fall.

    Chair of the Department of African American Studies Jacqueline Goldsby GRD ’93 ’98 said that discussion around a possible African American history or ethnic studies requirement for Yale College has surfaced twice since she assumed her role as department chair in 2014. In November 2015, the student group Next Yale listed an ethnic studies distributional requirement as its first demand in a list presented to University President Peter Salovey.

    The second instance occurred this past summer, when Aja Horwitz ’01 circulated a petition to make African American history a graduation requirement — not just at Yale, but at colleges in general. The petition received just over 2,000 signatures.

    Goldsby said discussions this summer did not result in any formal vote, but the consensus was that faculty members needed to have a broad conversation about the topic that stretches across units that teach African American history. Faculty in History, American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, she noted, all teach significant strands of African American history in their work.

    “We want everyone to learn about African American history,” Goldsby said. “That is not the question. We teach African American history every day. But why not Latinx history, why not Native American history, why not also Asian American history? … If Yale instituted a diversity requirement, why should it focus only on African American history?”

    One potential solution would be to adopt a broader ethnic studies requirement, as the California State University system did in July. But beyond concerns around the specificity of a potential course requirement, the department also identified other cautions during informal discussions this summer.

    Considerations around resources and departmental capacity influence large curricular changes. Goldsby said that to her knowledge, there are currently six faculty members whose research focus lies in African American history: David Blight, Crystal Feimster, Elizabeth Hinton, Matthew Jacobson, Edward Rugemer and Nicole Turner.

    Personally, Goldsby feels the department may lose some autonomy over its hiring and priorities if African American Studies houses a requirement. Properly staffing a required course in African American history for over 6,000 Yale College students might skew the department’s ability to grow in other fields where its faculty teach, Goldsby said, including art history, anthropology, economics, French, literature, music, political science, psychology and sociology. The requirement could reshape hiring in the discipline, increasing faculty hires and graduate student admissions to field enough instructors who specialize in African American history.

    Finally, Goldsby said department faculty thought requiring all students to take a course on something as sensitive as race could create hostile class environments that detract from the experiences of professors and other students. Although some students would certainly be interested and intellectually stimulated, faculty members — who might often be junior, non-tenured faculty of color, Goldsby said — could need to deal with students who resent being forced to complete such a requirement. The situation would also be challenging for tenured faculty, she added, while instructors in other required areas like QR-credit courses or language classes do not necessarily need to consider that racially charged class dynamic.

    “This is not to say one doesn’t do this,” Goldsby said. “It’s to say these are the kinds of questions that need to be thought through.”

    “The ways in which athletes and the whole athletic world are rising up is powerful and important,” she added. “We cherish [sports] as a space where we can come together, where there’s a kind of congregation, and all of us who watch and enjoy sports value it as a space of shared enthusiasm and experience. So for these athletes to say, ‘No, the world comes into the arena too,’ that’s a big deal, and I totally respect it.”

    With 333 career victories, Jones ranks as the winningest men’s basketball coach in school history. (Photo: Matt Dewkett/Yale Athletics)

    For Jones and ABIS, the work is just beginning. Jones discussed issues around race with many of his players over Zoom this summer, and ABIS group meetings now have him on Zoom every two weeks. His subcommittee on teaching African American history meets once every month, he said. ABIS has plans to add some student-athletes to its team, but Jones said the group is still working through that as it continues its launch.

    Jones’ involvement in ABIS begins alongside what promises to be the most unusual season of his coaching career, if a season occurs at all. He is home in Pauli Murray College, where he receives COVID-19 testing like other members of the Yale community, and said it is nice to see students back in the courtyard interacting with each other. Phased strength training is set to start soon for the handful of his players enrolled in residence, and Jones said he has filled the program’s previously vacant director of basketball operations position, although the hire is still being processed.

    His schedule this fall is largely free from the hectic routine that accompanies preseason practice, nonconference air travel and recruiting. ABIS, he said, is something he could have made time for regardless.

    “Well, I think that [the time’s] certainly been helpful, but I’d like to also think that we would have found the time to try to do this work because of how necessary it is,” Jones said. “Our country is so divided in so many different ways, and if we can find ways to bring our country together, I think it would improve all of us.”

    ABIS officially launched on Sept. 2, 2020.

    William McCormack | william.mccormack@yale.edu

  5. MEN’S BASKETBALL: At least seven of 12 returners taking fall-term leaves

    Leave a Comment

    With classes online, the nonconference basketball slate canceled this fall and not all students invited back to campus, at least seven of the 12 returning players on the Yale men’s basketball team have decided to take leaves of absence this semester, they told the News.

    Before the Ivy League canceled athletic competition until at least Jan. 1, players had already begun weighing options for the fall and this full year. When the time came for final decisions, non-basketball factors related to careers and job opportunities also significantly influenced their individual plans. 

    Nearly half of the returners are still in New Haven, either enrolled or working virtual internships. A slight majority of the team is taking the chance to pursue other opportunities away from the Elm City.

    “We as a team were pretty aware before [the Ivy League’s July announcement] just based off what was happening in the world that there was going to be at least no fall,” said captain Jalen Gabbidon ’22, who is taking a leave of absence this semester. “We knew that was not going to happen [and] it was pretty evident to us … so people kind of had plans in action.”

    In addition to Gabbidon, who told the News he is not currently planning to enroll this spring either, classmate and forward Jameel Alausa ’22 is planning to take a full gap year. Nearly all of last year’s sophomore players are taking leaves this fall, each of them told the News: forward Isaiah Kelly ’23, forward Jake Lanford ’23, guard Matthue Cotton ’23 and guard Michael Feinberg ’23, who intends to take a full-year leave of absence like Alausa. Would-be sophomore and guard August Mahoney ’24 said he is also taking a leave this fall.

    On the other hand, forward EJ Jarvis ’23 is enrolling remotely since sophomores are not welcome back in New Haven this fall semester. Junior guard Eze Dike ’22 told the News he is enrolled this fall, but unsure about his status for the spring. Finally, returning senior forwards Wyatt Yess ’21 and Paul Atkinson ’21 are both enrolled in residence this fall.

    Forward Paul Atkinson ’21, center, said he intends to enroll for the full year. (Photo: muscosportsphotos.com)

    Atkinson, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, said he intends to enroll in the spring as well. The 6-foot-10 forward, whom Mid-Major Madness named to their list of five mid-major players with potential for national stardom last month, briefly declared for the NBA Draft in the spring before removing his name and preserving his final season of collegiate eligibility. In the event the Ancient Eight has no season this year and the NCAA extends Ivy basketball players an extra season of eligibility, Atkinson would likely generate interest from several high-major programs searching for a graduate transfer if he does not immediately pursue a professional basketball career. 

    “It just came down to me wanting to enroll in school rather than take the year off,” Atkinson said. “I’m still hoping for the best for the spring season but if not, I’m looking forward to the future after I graduate, which I know will hold options for me.”

    Would-be senior and guard Azar Swain could not comment on his final fall-term status in time for publication, but said he plans to announce his decision soon. Yess and other players said that three of the five first years initially in Yale’s class of 2024 ultimately decided to enroll, while two — guards Yassine Gharram and Emir Buyukhanli — are taking a gap year.

    Gabbidon said head coach James Jones and the rest of the Yale coaching staff helped players consider the real possibility of no basketball season this year and did not want anyone to be “thrown off guard.” Still, for many, decisions about their ultimate fall statuses required serious thinking and exploration into potential job and internship opportunities.

    Graphic: Christie Yu

    Many players spent the summer going back-and-forth. Gabbidon, originally against the idea of a leave of absence, said he wanted to make sure his enrollment decision was not only about basketball. A computer science major who has worked at Google for the past two summers, the 6-foot-5 captain thought there would be little benefit to taking time off once he removed basketball from his thought process. But then, when he found the perfect opportunity, it suddenly became a no-brainer. “It was an instant yes,” he said.

    Jones and assistant coaches Matthew Kingsley and Justin Simon ’04 invited some alumni of the program to speak at team Zoom calls this summer, and when Gabbidon approached his head coach about the possibility of working at a startup, Jones helped connect his captain with former forward Jason Abromaitis ’07. Gabbidon now works in Denver with Abromaitis and one other partner on an unpublicized stealth startup that blends artificial intelligence and athletic training. To him, the work is so exciting that he said he would have considered the opportunity in a regular year.

    “For people who want to take leaves of absence, coach Jones has been really amazing, connecting people with different alumni and unique opportunities,” Gabbidon said. “I know some pretty awesome opportunities that guys are excited to pursue. We don’t have these opportunities traditionally. We’re a two-semester sport, we have to play both semesters, so this is honestly the best way to leverage our Yale education and the network that comes from being a Yale student, and I think that’s what’s really driven everyone to decide this is actually something that can really help us long-term. It’s not like we’re doing this for basketball. We’re doing this because it’s going to help our futures.”

    Alausa is home in Chicago after spending the summer working at a lab in New Haven studying COVID-19 and conducting nephrology research. Although he thought about continuing at the lab this fall, he decided to return home instead, where he is studying for the MCAT and taking online classes through Washington University in St. Louis.

    A new tutoring organization he founded called VTS (Virtual Tutoring Sessions) also occupies his time. Alausa said he and friends sought to fill a need for academic help in their communities, and he received mentorship on the project from Arne Duncan, the former United States Secretary of Education under Barack Obama. The organization consists of 20 Black college students from across the country who are collectively helping to virtually tutor a group of 20 students this fall, and Alausa said there are plans to take in 10 more students as the months progress.

    Forward Jameel Alausa ’22 plans on taking a full gap year. This fall, he is tutoring with VTS, studying for the MCAT and taking online classes through the Washington University in St. Louis. (Photo: Ryan Chiao)

    Alausa, who is pre-med, thinks a season this year is unlikely.

    “Realistically, looking at the numbers and things like that, I don’t really see it,” he said. “But obviously it can happen. That’d be exciting and good for the people on campus. Personally, I’m not sure how it’s going to happen.”

    Others, though not necessarily optimistic, are still hopeful. Yess, who is enrolled this fall, pointed out that Yale’s testing program and low student case numbers to start the year have been encouraging, especially in light of dramatic spikes some other schools have experienced after reopening campuses.

    After a summer at home, he said it was nice to be back at Yale, but the decision to enroll was not an easy one.

    “It was one of those things that went back-and-forth for me all the time,” Yess said. “I wanted to enroll, I wanted to get my degree and finish out my time at Yale. I really enjoyed it, but I have one year left. And then the other side was I love basketball and want to keep playing as long as I can, especially at Yale. So at the end of the day, just for me personally with one year left and all the uncertainty going on, I just liked the idea of finishing up at Yale, getting my degree and having that aspect of certainty in my mind, and then assessing my options after the fact, whether that be basketball or a job or anything along those lines.”

    After going “back-and-forth” this summer, forward Wyatt Yess ’21 decided to enroll in classes. (Photo: Lukas Flippo)

    After finding parks to work out at back home in St. Louis, Yess has not played much basketball since returning to the Elm City — hoops are still without rims on many outdoor courts in New Haven — but has managed to lift weights at his off-campus residence. He said strictly phased workouts for those enrolled in residence are set to begin soon and will at first only include strength and conditioning.

    In a normal year, players would be preparing for the preseason together, tackling a timed mile, helping first years through shopping period and gearing up for real workouts back in the John J. Lee Amphitheater. But with everyone on a different wavelength this fall and the Bulldogs’ three first years only just emerging from their campus quarantines, group chats and the occasional Zoom call are tying everyone together. Only time will tell what the spring might hold.

    “[COVID-19] has been crazy, and it has demonstrated that opportunities can be taken away from you in an instant,” Dike summed up. “That being said, not having basketball for the moment allows me to put more time and energy into my studies. As for next semester, I really have to wait and see.”

    William McCormack | william.mccormack@yale.edu

  6. MEN’S BASKETBALL: Before year of uncertainty, a summer workout with Azar Swain

    Leave a Comment

    STOUGHTON, MA — On an August night at the Dana Barros Basketball Club — a shiny five-court facility that normally hums with AAU teams, parents and tournament referees — the parking lot was mostly empty. 

    Azar Swain ’21 entered through the back door, picked a hoop and kicked off his slides. Sitting on the sidelines, he laced up a pair of white basketball shoes and acknowledged that certainties are rare in 2020.

    “I’m still not sure — you know, nobody’s really sure — what’s going to happen in the winter,” he said, a mask hiding most of his face and a backwards hat with “Boston” above the brim covering his head.

    The Yale men’s basketball guard and All-Ivy first team selection has not played a real game in more than five months — the last one occurred 40 minutes north of Stoughton at Harvard’s home court, Lavietes Pavilion. And with the Bulldogs’ nonconference basketball slate canceled this fall and any hope of Ivy League basketball this winter in jeopardy, Swain has no way to predict when he’ll take the floor again. 

    Amid the uncertainty around college basketball, his final two semesters at Yale and life itself, Swain is focusing on the positives, finding the time to recuperate his body while training roughly six days a week. Quarantine has shifted Swain’s basketball routine “backwards,” he said, bringing him back to the outdoor court in his neighborhood, bodyweight exercises, a few dumbbells like the best adjustable dumbbells, and a tall hill for sprints near home. His father, LaWan Swain, was with a younger Azar when he would shoot at the park back then and almost always accompanies him for workouts now. At Dana Barros, they take advantage of a night inside with polished floors, an indoor rim and no wind.

    “Obviously, it’s been tough for a lot of people,” Azar said. “For me personally, I try to find the silver linings in a lot of things. For example, this summer, especially with the uncertainty of the Ivy League cancelling and all that, [has] given me a really long time to work on getting healthy and getting my knee better … When we got home [in] March to our next game is January hopefully, that’s a nine-month process. That’s been the biggest thing, trying to get healthy.”

    Swain’s coronavirus-era workouts have brought his body and left knee back to his senior year of high school –– he said he has not felt this good since then. Of the 91 games Yale has played since Swain started with the Blue and White, the 6-foot guard has only missed one. Game adrenaline helped him through any pain that would follow a layup off his left leg, he said, and he underwent surgery on his left patellar tendon a few weeks after the end of his sophomore season in April 2019. Last summer, he crammed, trying to fully recover his knee while simultaneously working on drills to return him to “game shape” by the first day of class in August. But by the end of the season, soreness after practices and games became routine.

    Few people could tell Swain was dealing with a knee issue when he played. He averaged a team-high 33.4 minutes a game last season and knocked down 93 three-pointers to capture Yale’s single-season record in the process. But summer under quarantine gave him the chance to resolve lingering pain, and he moved with fluidity during his evening workout at Dana Barros.

    LaWan rebounded like he always does, and Azar began in a ring around the basket, taking light shots to warm up. He emphasized his form, getting his wrist into rhythm, before moving beyond the three-point line to attack the basket with layups on both sides. For someone who is 28 career three-pointers shy of Yale’s school record (he sits at 201), Swain very rarely practiced spot-up shooting in his workout. Instead, he incorporated movement into nearly every drill. He glided past imaginary defenders on the way to the basket. He jabbed and hesitated before making a break or stopping to launch a mid-range shot. Even towards the end of the night, when he walked paces beyond the three-point arc, he dribbled through his legs before launching deep triples. Everything was fluid, patient and deliberate.

    “No matter if it’s running on a track, running on a hill, outdoor shooting, or I try to lift four or five times a week, [I’ve put a] lot more emphasis on skill work as far as basketball goes and less [on] game-conditioning workouts,” Swain said. “My mind is more focused on getting better individually — I know different things I need to get better at — so trying to focus on that and tighten up some of the fundamental things as opposed to thinking about an Alabama or something like that.”

    Without a set date for the start of the season, there is no Stony Brook, California or Creighton — Yale’s season-opening opponents the last three years — circled on the calendar for preparation. Swain said he thought this fall’s nonconference schedule, which would have featured a game against Alabama in New Haven, would have been Yale’s strongest. The lack of distant matchups on the calendar has allowed Swain to invest his time into expanding his layup package, finishing off his right foot with his left hand and continuing to expand his seemingly limitless range.

    He has barely played any five-on-five this summer, but said he made it to one summer scrimmage hosted by Boston-area coach and Penn State graduate assistant KJ Baptiste. Baptiste’s “Summer Runs” now boast their own Instagram account and an impressive list of New England-based participants, including many fellow alumni of the Mass Rivals grassroots basketball program. Among others, Swain said former high school teammate and current Villanova forward Jermaine Samuels, Villanova’s Cole Swider, former Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson and UConn graduate Jalen Adams also scrimmaged the day he played.

    Zoom meetings and virtual work with Yale coaches throughout the summer have complemented his own training. Initially, the team gathered on the platform to chat and check in with each other. But as the summer went on, players took part in virtual scouts and studied game film via shared screens.

    “I’m a single child, so I’m used to being alone,” Swain said. “I can be in the house not doing much, but I have some people in my family and close friends who have really gone through it with everything being shut down and not being able to see other people. I guess having that support group in a sense, being able to talk to them sometimes — I think that’s been good for our team.”

    Teammates have come up with their own training solutions during quarantine, as many across the world, not only college basketball players, adapt their daily lives to take place outside or at home. Guard Matthue Cotton ’22 said he had to be more creative with his basketball-related work than in previous summers, and he turned a training project into a family activity.

    Back in March, his father ordered the dimensions for the college game’s deeper three-point line in order to paint new lines around the Cottons’ outdoor hoop. By May, a hot day allowed Cotton, his parents and his older brother, who plays basketball at Division II Lincoln University, to place and paint down the permanent three-point line. Since then, Cotton said he has managed to gain access to a few indoor gyms but still uses the outdoor court to shoot and play one-on-one with his brother.

    “Doing countless at-home workouts during the beginning of quarantine was extremely frustrating since I was so used to being able to go to a gym and lift weights,” Cotton said. “Researching various workouts, buying bands, buying a heavy basketball and utilizing equipment in my house that I’ve never used beforehand allowed me to make the best of quarantine. For me, working out without a game to look forward to has not had much of an effect.”

    Back at the Dana Barros Basketball Club, Swain strolled to the free throw line. He had built a sweat, and he stood, hands on knees, collecting his breath. He picked up the ball and sized up the rim, shooting free throws before moving on to iterations of jump shots and free throws, jump shots and free throws. Azar and his father consulted throughout the sequence, talking briefly about where to shoot or mechanics to keep in mind.

    Shots from deep — way deep — concluded the workout before one final run at the free throw line. “Watch his feet,” LaWan said when Azar was launching shots from the top of the key at one point. “If they’re both straight, it’s going to go in.”

    LaWan said he shouts the same reminders from the stands sometimes at games when Azar finds himself in a cold streak. LaWan, who grew up in Boston and played high school basketball, attends nearly every Yale game, but no matter whom the Bulldogs face — whether Oklahoma State on the road or Harvard at home — he makes a point of sitting with the opposing team’s fans.

    “When we’re there, I’m listening to what people are saying,” LaWan said. “I’ll take notes from the game, not from what I’ve seen that he did good, but what I hear people say that he did bad, and then we’ll go back and we’ll work on it. As a dad, as a fan, maybe I only see the good stuff. So they’re going to tell me what they think that the best way to attack him is.”

    The next time LaWan can catch a game may remain an open question into 2021, even in the case that Yale plays its conference schedule this winter.

    But for now, Azar is still shooting, fine-tuning his fundamentals and his body as he waits for his career to resume. 

    “Everything kind of happens for a reason,” he said. “I just try to take that mindset and roll with the punches.”

    William McCormack | william.mccormack@yale.edu

  7. Two seniors chase hoop dreams

    Leave a Comment

    May is a time of uncertainty for Yale seniors as they look to begin the rest of their lives, but two Yale seniors are searching for a job on the hardwood rather than in an office or classroom.

    Center Greg Mangano ’12 and forward Reggie Willhite ’12 are currently preparing to enter the world of professional basketball after Commencement.

    Mangano has produced most of the buzz between the two players, as he has tried to show NBA teams around the country what he is capable of. He recently returned to campus after participating in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Portsmouth, Va., from April 11 to 14.

    “I thought he did a real nice job at proving that he can shoot from the perimeter,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “[That was] the emphasis that his agent has put on him.”

    At the Tournament, Mangano averaged 10.7 points and six rebounds while shooting 46.2 percent (6–13) from beyond the arc in three games. The next step for Mangano will be to participate in individual workouts with several NBA teams, Jones said.

    “I thought I played well. I shot the ball from deep,” Mangano said. “Going to a small mid-major school, you don’t get the same kind of exposure.”

    Mangano added that he has a work-out set up with the Utah Jazz. He has been training in New Jersey during the weekends.

    Although all 30 NBA teams had scouts at the Portsmouth tournament, it was not the first time that scouts have seen Mangano play.

    “During the course of the season there were a couple of scouts that requested credentials to the games,” Assistant Director of Sports Publicity Tim Bennett said.

    He added that the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs all requested press passes for scouts to attend Yale games this past season.

    The Spurs were one of two teams, along with the Boston Celtics, who contacted Jones after Mangano filled out the paperwork for the draft after last season, Jones said.

    Jones suggested that Mangano test the waters of the NBA draft to create interest following a junior season during which he averaged 16.3 points and ten rebounds per game. But Mangano did not hire an agent last year and returned to Yale for his senior season.

    “There was nothing really last year that he did other than put his name into the draft,” Jones said. “I [suggested he enter the draft] because I thought Greg should’ve been Player of the Year and he wasn’t. I thought it important for him to have his name put out there.”

    Although it is not likely that Mangano’s name will be called on draft day, Jones said, Mangano will still have a good chance to make an NBA team. The center will be able to try out over the summer to sign a free agent contract with a team, and if not, he will have the option of playing the NBA’s Developmental League — the NBA’s version of the Minors. Mangano also said that he could play in Europe, adding that he is open to playing overseas and has talked to representatives from teams in Spain, Israel and Lithuania.

    In this case, Mangano will face a tough choice, Jones said, because the D-League gives players more exposure to NBA teams but European teams can pay more.

    “I want to show that I’m a versatile 6’ 11’’ player who can stretch the floor,” Mangano said.

    Although Mangano is the more traditional NBA prospect with his superior height, Willhite is also looking to play professionally and has hired an agent in the hopes of landing with a team in the United States or abroad.

    “Reggie’s a great prospect and I wish him just as much luck in the process,” Jones said. “It’s just easier when you’re six-eleven.”

    Willhite did not respond for comment Tuesday.

    As the 2012 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, Willhite could make a team as a lockdown defender rather than as a long-range scoring threat like Mangano.

    The Ivy League is not traditionally a pipeline to the NBA, but with Jeremy Lin’s sensational run with the New York Knicks earlier this year, new hope has been given to Ancient Eight ballers such as Mangano and Willhite.

    The 2012 NBA draft will be held on June 28.

  8. M. BASKETBALL | Bulldogs’ postseason ends in Bridgeport

    Leave a Comment

    Yale’s first trip to the postseason in a decade was a short one.

    The Bulldogs held a 13-point lead at halftime, but fell to Fairfield University (20-14, 12-6 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) in Bridgeport, Conn. on Wednesday, 68-56.

    Eight Elis scored in the first half as Yale used a balanced attack to build a 39-26 advantage going into the break, but the Stags raced out of intermission on a 24-3 run to build a 50-42 lead.

    “I just thought we played harder [than Yale],” Fairfield head coach Sydney Johnson said. “With all due respect to Yale… I thought they were outworking us in the first half, [but] clearly we dug deeper.”

    The Stags’ second half spurt began at the defensive end. Fairfield ground the Bulldogs’ attack to a halt, preventing Yale from registering a single assist after the break.

    Fairfield had seven second half steals. Stag guard Colin Nickerson led the string of larcenies, registering four in the second half on his way to a five steal, 22-point performance.

    “They were able to turn us over and turn it into points,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “That was the biggest problem we had in the second half.”

    Jones added that playing much of the game without a true point guard hurt Yale. Starter Mike Grace ’13 was sidelined with an injury and Isaiah Salafia ’14 left the team earlier in the year for personal reasons. The only remaining true point guard on the roster, Javier Duren ’15, had played only 89 minutes all season prior to Wednesday’s contest.

    The Bulldogs did not go softly into the good night, however; forward and captain Reggie Willhite’s ’12 layup with 1:06 remaining cut the deficit to 61-56. The Stags gave life to Yale by missing seven straight free throws down the stretch before draining its final five attempts from the line to seal the game.

    In addition to being the last game of Yale’s 2011-12 season, the loss was also the final game for the Class of 2012.

    “[My classmates] all had really good careers here,” center Greg Mangano ’12 said. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s a tough way to go out.”

    Mangano added that, as captain, Willhite was the leader of the team. Willhite was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and had two steals on Wednesday to increase his Yale single season record to 65.

    Willhite contributed ten points, and Mangano led the Elis with 17 points and eight rebounds. The duo, which ranked first and second on the Bulldogs in scoring for the season, scored only ten points in the final half of their careers with the blue and white.

    “[The seniors] did a great job leading us all year,” Jones said. “I thanked them for their efforts. It’s kind of difficult at this point to reflect on everything because it comes to a crashing halt: especially when we felt so good coming into the second half.”

    Fairfield will move on to the second round of the CIT this weekend. The Stag’s opponent will be unveiled following the completion of the remaining first round games.

  9. M. BASKETBALL | Balanced Bulldogs sweep homestand

    Leave a Comment

    Yale’s seniors have played a combined 300 games in their college careers, but they found a way to make their final homestand stand out this weekend.

    The Bulldogs (19-7, 9-3 Ivy) prevailed against Columbia (14-14, 3-9 Ivy) 75-67 on Friday night and followed it up by demolishing Cornell (11-15, 6-6 Ivy) 71-40 on Senior Night Saturday. Forward Greg Mangano ’12 said that the 31-point victory was a satisfying home finale.

    “I couldn’t think of a much better way to go out,” Mangano said. “[There was a] really good crowd and great contributions from everybody … We just played really well as a team.”

    The four seniors — forward Rhett Anderson ’12, guard Brian Katz ’12, forward Greg Mangano ’12 and forward Reggie Willhite ’12 — were honored in a pre-game ceremony. Then they led the team to its most lopsided victory of the year in Ancient Eight play.

    Mangano led a balanced scoring effort with 16 points in addition to 10 rebounds. Willhite scored eight points to go along with nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals.

    “[Willhite’s] superman,” head coach James Jones said. “I’m going to get him a cape. He does everything for us.”

    Willhite also contributed heavily to Friday’s victory, scoring 20 points while pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out six assists. Mangano scored a game-high 22 points on Friday. Guard Austin Morgan ‘13 had 14 and 11 points, respectively, but the weekend was a team effort.

    On Friday night it was forward Brandon Sherrod ’15 who stepped up for the Elis. He also tied his career-high by scoring 10 points — eight in the second half — to hold off the Lions. He entered the weekend shooting just 58.6 percent from the free-throw line, but he knocked down six of nine from the charity stripe to preserve the victory. He said that his success was a result of his extra work.

    “It was a lot of work in practice,” Sherrod said. “I try to shoot free throws after every practice.”

    On, Saturday guard Jesse Pritchard ’14 answered the call for the Bulldogs. He hit all three of his attempts from beyond the arc on the way to a career-high 13 points along with two steals. He tied a career-high with four assists on Friday without turning the ball over once. Willhite said that the team plays its best when the offense is balanced.

    “When we move the ball we can be a very, very good team,” Willhite said. “It’s not always about scoring, it’s about making the right play. When we give the ball up to the open man we get good shots.”

    The homestand sweep gave the Bulldogs an 11-1 home record this season. Jones attributed part of this success to the crowd. He added that the players feed off of the energy of the fans at the Lee Amphitheater.

    Jones said that he did have one regret about the weekend, though: He wished that Katz — who has been limited to two games this season after having double retina surgery — could have dressed for senior night.

    “I’m saddened by the fact that one of our seniors, Brian Katz … couldn’t be a part of the game on the floor,” Jones said. “That’s something you want to think about and have a memory. Certainly Greg and Rhett and Reggie are going to have a memory about that going forward.”

    The Elis will travel to Princeton March 2 for the final weekend of the regular season.

  10. M. BASKETBALL | Elis prep for final home stand

    Leave a Comment

    Yalies hoping to wach the men’s basketball team in action at home this season will get their last chance this weekend.

    The Bulldogs will play host to Columbia (14–12, 3–7 Ivy) tonight and then face Cornell (10–14, 5–5 Ivy) at the Lee Amphitheater Saturday. The Bulldogs played on the road the past two weekends, most recently in a 66-51 loss at Harvard last Saturday. Although the Elis were defeated by their archrival Crimson, Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker said that he saw Yale as a team that is never out of a ballgame.

    “[Yale has] been down, and they’ve marched their way back and won games,” Amaker said last Saturday. “That’s the mark of a good team — a tough team.”

    The Bulldogs will need to be tough this weekend, as they are in third place in the Ivy League: a half-game behind Penn and two below the Cantabs.

    If the Elis want to gain a postseason berth — either the NCAA tournament bid given to the Ivy League champion or an National Invitational Tournament bid as the second place team — then sweeping the final home stand of the year is essential. The Bulldogs played both Cornell and Columbia away two weeks ago, losing to the Big Red 85–84 in OT before overcoming a 21-point deficit the next night and beating the Lions 59–58 in New York City.

    One reason that Cornell was able to topple Yale in Ithaca was the hot shooting of Jonathan Gray, who hit six of his eight three-point attempts on his way to a career-high 29 points. Although Yale head coach James Jones said that the Bulldogs will have to improve on defending ball screens, he said that he would not game-plan specifically for Gray.

    “We want to limit shots for anyone,” Jones said. “If [Gray] shot his average, we [would] win the game. [But] we’ll certainly be conscious of him.”

    Gray is averaging a career-high 8.4 points per game this season and shooting 29.7 percent from beyond the arc.

    This weekend will not only be the final home stand of the season: it will also be the final home stand in the careers of four Bulldogs. Forward Rhett Anderson ’12, guard Brian Katz ’12, forward Greg Mangano ’12 and forward Reggie Willhite ’12 will all suit up for their final regular season game at the Lee Amphitheater Saturday.

    Although Mangano and Willhite might look to pursue professional basketball after graduation, Anderson said that he is looking at his final home game as a different transition.

    “I’m transitioning from something I’ve been doing my whole life — playing basketball competitively — to something else,” Anderson said. “[This weekend] is going to be business as usual, which is probably going to be one thing I like the most. I’m just enjoying it while it lasts.”

    Yale has won nine of its 10 home games so far this year.

  11. M. BASKETBALL | Recruiting renews roster

    1 Comment

    John Stockton put on the same short shorts for 19 straight seasons for the Utah Jazz. In contrast, players only get four years of eligibility in college, so coaches must continually recruit new talent to replace seniors.

    The Bulldogs will graduate four seniors this year: captain and forward Reggie Willhite ’12, forward Greg Mangano ’12, forward Rhett Anderson ’12 and guard Brian Katz ’12.

    The four roster spots opened up by the graduating class of 2012 combined with the uncertain future of point guard Isaiah Salafia ’14 – who has left the team indefinitely for personal reasons — will open up space for the class of 2016 on a roster that had 17 players at the season’s beginning.

    “Seventeen [players] is the most I’ve ever carried,” head coach James Jones said. “Normally I carry 13 or 14 recruited players … But Brian [Katz] had double retina surgery, and Isaiah [Salafia] had to leave with personal issues, and suddenly we’re a little thin in the backcourt.”

    Jones will have to make do with the players at hand for the rest of this season until next year, when he will bring in three new Bulldogs. According to ESPN.com and other sources, the class of 2016 will consist of power forward Justin Sears ’16 from Plainfield High School in Plainfield, N.J., point guard Jack Montague ’16 from Brentwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn. and small forward Nick Victor ’16 from the Winchendon School in Winchendon, Mass.

    Jones was only able to confirm the addition of Sears, however, because he is the only player to have officially sent in his card to matriculate to Yale.

    “We can’t really comment on any of the recruits officially until we get that card,” Assistant Director of Sports Publicity Tim Bennett said. “The recruits themselves may say that they’re coming to Yale, but we won’t officially announce it until we have that card.”

    The athletic department at Plainfield High School did not return phone calls made by the News.

    According to an Oct. 30 article on newjersey.com, Sears opted for Yale over Princeton University, Stanford University and Boston University.

    Brentwood head coach Dennis King confirmed that Montague will bring his talents to New Haven next year. He added that Montague brings more than talent to the court.

    “It’s almost like he’s an assistant coach for us,” King said. “He has that kind of maturity for us. When he talks in the huddle, we listen … I’ve coached for 39 years, and he is probably the most committed basketball player I have ever coached.”

    King said that Montague is MVP of his league and is averaging around 17 points and seven assists per game. Belmont University and Lipscomb University were among several other schools competing with Yale for Montague.

    Victor will come to Yale in the fall after completing a postgraduate year at the Winchendon School. Jones said that taking a postgraduate year helps players to mature.

    “[A postgraduate year] is great for a couple of reasons,” Jones said. “Some kids need to sharpen their academics. A lot of high schools around the country don’t really prepare kids for the Ivy League. Athletically it gives them another year.”

    Three players on the current roster took postgraduate years between high school and college. Willhite played at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, guard Jesse Pritchard ’14 went to Blair Academy in New Jersey and forward Brandon Sherrod ’15 came to Yale this year from Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut.

    Matthew Quinn, Victor’s head coach at Winchendon, did not respond to a request for comment.

    The new Elis will join a team next year that will lose a bulk of its production on the court due to graduation. Although Katz has played in just two games after his surgery earlier in the year, the senior class has combined to average 32.8 points per game and 44.4 percent of the points the Elis have scored this season. Jones said that it will be a team effort to make up for the loss.

    “I expect it’ll be all hands on deck,” Jones said. “It’s harder for freshmen to contribute. There’s a huge difference [between high school and college].”

    Jones added that there might be room for walk-ons on next year’s roster.